Imagine a nice summer day, the yummy smell of coconut, and fun conversation with those around you. Sounds like some tropical vacation, huh? Well, not quite. A nice summer day spent inside the physical therapy office (but there are a bunch of super open/big windows, I’ll give them that), the yummy smell of coconut coming from the coconut oil that’s put on your legs before
the pain and torture Astym begins, and fun conversation with the physical therapy assistants who are super personable and are sure to keep you talking and keep your mind off of any discomfort you definitely are might be in. Just another day at physical therapy! Thanks to my plantar fasciitis, these moments are becoming part of my weekly routine.
So to recap how things have been since last week … Astym has been going great! I mean … if sharp plastic tools being scraped along your shins and around your knee & ankle joints can be considered a good time. Did I mention this has all been happening first thing in the morning? Almost like a nightmare, except for the fact that I’m awake and the only other nightmare I can really remember ever having was when I was a little kid and Darth Vader was in my room!
Astym® treatment is a therapy that regenerates healthy soft tissues (muscles, tendons, etc.), and eliminates or reduces unwanted scar tissue that may be causing pain or movement restrictions. Astym® treatment is highly effective and even works when other approaches routinely fail.
Yeah yeah, the official definition of Astym (because who else really knows what it is?). Love the last part, even when other approaches routinely fail. “Routinely fail.“ Haha obviously this is the crème de la crème of physical therapy techniques. Or something like that. ;-)
Okay, so this physical therapy thing, it’s not all that bad
I guess. The people are all extremely friendly and terrifyingly strong very patient with me every morning I’ve been in so far. One of the gals is a student who just started on her clinical rounds and has been experimenting working with me alongside the older, more experienced PTA. A little bit of a drive for torture therapy = Astym, range of movement manipulations by the assistant, half an hour of stretching and mobility, and then finished with ice and e-stim – electronic stimulation. Basically little electrodes attached to my foot that make it tingle in weird ways, while the ice is meant to distract you from it. Nice way to begin the day, I suppose. Oh, and not to mention the super attractive cotton shorts you get to wear if you forget your own (but obviously I would never make such a juvenile mistake, pshhh). Even with all these positive thoughts about Astym, while writhing in pain and still attempting to make conversation, my mind came up with a few (pretty accurate if you ask me) acronyms!
ActuallySuperTerrifyingYerking(apparently this is a word? definition: a thud of blow, as from a stick)Movement
Since most of my appointment is really just focused on stretching and loosening up the muscles in/around my foot, my mind wandered about for ideas for this post. What I’ve come up with, I present: the 10 most painful stretches. Once upon a time I started running, and in that, started to stretch more often outside of practice (growing up playing soccer has made me miss stretching circles that cross county teams just don’t seem to do as often, haha), and on my own. Over the years I’ve come across quite a few different techniques, and after beginning physical therapy and learning more about the rehabilitation/prevention side of injuries, I now feel fairly qualified to judge (depending on the circumstance of your body post-run/workout/lift/etc.) how painful some of these stretches are in comparison to one another … At least from my own experiences.
10 Corpse Yoga Pose – something about this position just really gets to me, you know? Maybe it’s all the pressure on my back. ;-) Really though, some yoga can be TOUGH. Havasana? Yeah, no thanks (unless I get a water break halfway through).
9 Toe Reaches/Hamtring Stretch – the most basic, and while it’s totally effective, I can think of worse.
8 Wall Calf/Heel Stretches – you can usually feel a pretty good pull on your calves and back of your heel whether you’re sore or not, but definitely not always “painful.”
7 Towel Pull – this one gets me, I don’t know. All sorts of pulling from the muscles in the foot to heel to all the way up the calf. Always hard to do this one without shoes on when using a resistance band. All sorts of problems with this one. Always seem to be stretching a different muscle depending how you position the towel/band/rope/etc. – stretching muscles I didn’t even know I had, ah!
6 Ice bathes – so I guess these can’t be classified under stretches, but if you’ve taken an ice bath, full body or not, you know that they’re not the most pleasant situations to be in. I had an old teammate who would chew/yell into a rag while just with his legs in an ice bath (all the while the rest of us threw extra ice cubes at him – whoops), yet in college I’ve seen swimmers go full body and not even think twice or seem any degree colder/more miserable. Gotta love the anti-inflammatory perks, but brrrrrrrr.
5 Hip Flexor Stretch – nothing super special but this one is an ouch from your quads, hips, butt, all the way to the ankles. Maybe I should work on my flexibility …?
4 Foam Rolling – maybe even tied for 3rd depending on the amount of KNOTS in your muscles that day! I’ll admit, I’ve most definitely shed a few tears while foam rolling in the past. Not to mention it’s just kind of awkward to do! I can’t say that I don’t get excited to try different types of rollers though – my favorite is the ones with the thicker ridges (works better = hurts more, ugh).
3 Golf Ball Heel Stretch – maybe I’m biased since I’m suffering from intense heel pain right now, but golf balls are not forgiving in any way. Ask my parents about my reaction to rolling with this little guy (even after taking some ibuprofen!) = OW.
2 Astym – again, biased, but at the same time … when a technique often leaves bruises?! My poor scraped skin! Or muscles? Not even sure which hurts more.
1 Graston – infamous in the athletic trainer’s office at college. Haven’t had it (yet? Hopefully not ever!), but just LOOK at those tools! I see a bit of a resemblance to, oh I don’t know … medieval torture devices? Yeah, basically the same thing. Pshh, “muscle recovery.”
So there you go, the 10 most painful stretches: a totally unbiased ranking from yours truly! I’d be curious to know how your list differs. Other than complaining about physical therapy (which in reality isn’t all that bad – I secretly am enjoying it … not to mention it’s been effective in helping with my heel pain!), all else is well this summer in the busy life of Gabby. Somehow I’ve managed to blog weekly, see friends, hangout with my parents, have some exciting adventures, and enjoy my time at home in the Northwest. But, as always, I’m procrastinating a run
that I have to do and should get moving. After Astym and a handful of other painful stretches (some of which are listed above), I’m not sure how much a “run” this will be versus a very very slow jog. Wish me luck.
Until next time,